Tag: costa rica sailfish

Sailfish Hero Shot

Sailfish – The Evolution of The Hero Shot

Saifish -The evolution of the Hero Shot

Written for the Tico Times by Todd Staley February 28, 2019

A picture recently sent to Todd Staley showing people still taking hero shots. (Photo courtesy of Todd Staley)

Did you know the sailfish picture above is now illegal in Costa Rica?

Ten years ago a regulation made it illegal for the sport fishing sector to take a billfish, sailfish and marlin, out of the water for a “hero shot” photo of their prized catch.

The web is full of photos that could potentially bring a 2 million colones fine ($3,250) to the offender who pulls a billfish out of the water. To date, I don’t know of anyone who has ever been arrested or prosecuted on this. In fact, after all these years, many still claim they don’t know about the law.

Not everyone agrees with it either.

Many charter captains feel it diminishes their chance to attract new business. When potential clients see happy people holding big fish, they want to do it too. Many tourists are not aware of the law and crews, who rely on tips, don’t want to disappoint them.

It seems that some people have appointed me the billfish cop and when a hero shot shows up on social media, someone sends it to me. I usually send a message to the person who posted the picture, explaining the law. Sometimes I get a thank you note, sometimes I get responses I couldn’t possibly print here.

While hero shots are all over the internet, they’ve been around for decades. They started with old black-and-white photos of multiple fish nailed to a board at the dock or a huge hanging marlin.

An old black-and-white photos showing how anglers and charter captains bragged about their catch. (Photo courtesy of Sailfish Club)

That is how charter fleets attracted their next clients. That slowly evolved to a more catch and release attitude, but the need for the hero shot still existed to attract clients. Thousands of fish were dragged over the side of the boat and set in the angler’s lap for a photo.

Eventually, it was decided it was even better to leave the fish in the water.

People think a couple of minutes out of the water is not harmful to the animal, but any amount of time out of the water is bad for the fish. It stresses the fish and removes the protective slime by dragging it onboard, making them susceptible to life-threatening bacteria.

It’s still possible to get a good hero shot without taking the fish out of the water. First, whoever was taking the photo should know how to operate the camera. I’ve seen many wasted minutes while a tourist fumbles with a fish and a crewmember fumbles with a new camera.

A legal hero shot that’s also safer for the fish. (Photo courtesy of Todd Staley)

You can also give the client gloves so they can grab the fish by the bill. That way they can get a picture with a fish while it’s still in the water. The client can lean over with a big smile while someone snaps a few pictures. Then the fish can be safely released with minimum stress. This is more easily accomplished if the side of the boat is not very high off the water.

I think ego drives a person to get the photo with them up close and personal with a prized fish. I have certainly lifted my fair share of billfish out of the water, but after 10 years of not lifting one out, I have changed my mind.

New technology has given us something better than a hero shot.

Today almost everyone walks around with a high-resolution camera capable of video in their pocket. There are also Go-Pros or similar products that can be operated by remote or voice control. Clip one on to your canopy and you have a great view of the entire stern of the boat. Some of the best fishing videos and still pictures I have seen were taken from devices like the one we carry in our pockets.

I now personally think it is much more impactful to show your friends just how exciting these fish are to catch. An action video of your fish dancing across a cobalt sea is very impressive. It doesn’t have to be long, usually 15 to 30 seconds will tell the story. Try to get at least a few seconds of the angler on the rod or line screaming off the reel and your friends will think you are a pro.

So once again I remind anglers, in Costa Rica it is illegal to remove a billfish from the water by sport fishing enthusiasts. Commercial fishermen are allowed 15 percent incidental catch on sailfish.

Not everyone has the same opinion and Capt. Skip Smith, who is a world class captain and writer who now fishes in Quepos voiced his opinion on what is more harmful to billfish. You can read his article over at Marlin Magazine.


Todd Staley has run fishing sport operations on both coasts of Costa Rica for over 25 years. He recently decided to take some time off to devote full-time to marine conservation and is the communications director at FECOP. Contact him at wetline@hotmail.com.

Having a Successful Costa Rica Fishing Trip

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Costa Rica Sailfish

Sailfish

Costa Rica Fishing Species – Sailfish

Learn more about Costa Rica Sailfish

Costa Rica Sialfish

Image from IGFA Fish Database

About Costa Rica’s Pacific  Sailfish

Its fighting ability and spectacular aerial acrobatics endear the sailfish to the saltwater angler, but it tires quickly and is considered a light tackle species. Fishing methods include trolling with strip baits, plures, feathers or spoons, as well as live bait fishing and kite fishing. The most action is found where sailfish are located on or near the surface where they feed.

Recent acoustical tagging and tracking experiments suggest that this species is quite hardy and that survival of released specimens is good

FECOP Fish Facts: Pacific Sailfish

Fastest Fish in the Sea at up to 70mph

World Record 222 lbs (Ecuador)

Common Name: Sailfish

Scientific Name: Istiophorus

Type: Fish

Diet: Carnivores

Group Name: School

Average life span in The Wild: 4 years

Feeding Tactics: Uses its bill to stun individual fish or slash groups of fish

Size: 5.7 to 11 ft

Weight: 120 to 220 lbs

 

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Fishing for Science – Tagging and Studying Sailfish and Marlin

Fishing for Science: Tagging and Studying Sailfish and Marlin Habits

By Todd Staley published for The Tico Times Jan 31, 2019

Left to right: FECOP member Henry Marin tagging expert Robbie Schallert, Captain Francisco Lobo, First mate Gerardo “McFly” Moreno, Dr. Danielle Haulsee, and Dr. Larry Crowder. (Todd Staley / The Tico Times)

The site of a billfish coming up into a spread of teasers, happily skipping across a deep blue ocean never gets old. Sailfish, named for their extremely tall dorsal fin and a sword-like bill, will light up in a purple hue when excited.

They generally come into the teasers — which are hook-less lures that trail behind the boat to attract sailfish — gracefully swatting them with their bills. This gives you time to place your bait in front of it. A marlin looks similar to a sailfish, but they’re much larger. They also almost always bust through the ocean like a linebacker blitzing the quarterback, or a bull tearing through the ring at Christmastime in Zapote. The adrenaline rush of catching one of these fish is always rewarding, but it’s even better when you know you’re helping science learn a little more about these fish.

FECOP’s Henry Marin brings a study subject on board

I recently helped a group of scientists, led by Dr. Larry Crowder from the Hopkins Marine Station at Stanford University, catch fish to better understand and manage ocean pelagics like sailfish and marlin.

It was a good day for fishing and science. There was enough fish for the scientists to be selective with the ones they tagged. They placed satellite tags in three marlin and nine sailfish They chose the healthiest looking fish to place the tags. The tags cost around $4,000 a piece, so it pays to be careful. The tags they use have a “double loop” system which limits the drag in the water and keeps the tag close to the body. It’s black so predator fish won’t be attracted to it.

The team several scientists from Stanford University, tagging experts and several local captains. The team of scientists were here to start-up a four-year project called Dynamic Marine Animal Research (DynaMAR) and are placing satellite tags on marlin and sailfish along several points off the Pacific coast.

 

The tag is black so it won’t attract predators. (Todd Staley / The Tico Times)

 

It was a good day for fishing and science. There was enough fish for the scientists to be selective with the ones they tagged. They placed satellite tags in three marlin and nine sailfish They chose the healthiest looking fish to place the tags. The tags cost around $4,000 a piece, so it pays to be careful. The tags they use have a “double loop” system which limits the drag in the water and keeps the tag close to the body. It’s black so predator fish won’t be attracted to it.

The team several scientists from Stanford University, tagging experts and several local captains. The team of scientists were here to start-up a four-year project called Dynamic Marine Animal Research (DynaMAR) and are placing satellite tags on marlin and sailfish along several points off the Pacific coast.

The tag is black so it won’t attract predators. (Todd Staley / The Tico Times)

The tags will gather information on movement, location, depths traveled and water temperatures. They are set to pop off at intervals of, six, nine, and 12 months and float to the surface. Then an antenna will transmit the data to a satellite. Scientists will compare that data from other sources the fish have traveled to.

They are especially interested in what these fish are doing during an El Niño period. During this period, the water warms and changes the upwelling of nutrients. The fish’s normal patterns change and they become more lethargic.

They plan to tag fish every month of the year in future visits and hope to have data on nearly 150 billfish after they’re finished.Dr. Crowder says a similar study on swordfish of the coast of California changed the thinking on Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s).

“Fish don’t always stay in the same place, especially pelagic species, they are always on the move,” Dr. Crowder said. “What we found was at times the fish and marine life we were trying to protect were not even in the area we were protecting”

Dr. Larry Crowder (Pictured Right –  by Todd Staley / The Tico Times)

With the information they gathered from the swordfish study, they were not only able to predict where the concentration of swordfish would be, but more importantly, they could predict where the highest concentrations of bycatch would be. In that case, it was blue sharks and Leatherback turtles, a highly endangered marine reptile.

That study led to the creation of Mobile Marine Protected Areas. By predicting the location of bycatch, areas could be closed to commercial swordfishing for a period and changed with the movements of the bycatch. This led to better conservation effort while allowing commercial fisherman a larger area to fish.

 

 

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Costa Rica Billfish

Having a Successful Costa Rica Fishing Trip

Getting The Most Out of Your Costa Rica Fishing Trip

Thinking about sport fishing in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is known for some of the best billfishing (sailfish and marlin) in the world. Trolling for sailfish or marlin has a hypnotic effect on one. Staring at six or more brightly colored teasers skipping across an indigo ocean for any period of time almost puts you in a trance. The following tips should help you get the most out of your Costa Rica fishing trip.

That trance is quickly interrupted when a swordsman lit up in a purple hue snaps you back to reality and charges up from the deep, slashing at the teasers. Knowing what to expect before this happens can mean the difference between a missed fish or a date with a ballerina on a cobalt blue dance floor. Be prepared for your fishing trip.

Keys to Success on Your Costa Rica Fishing Trip

If you booked through a travel agent ask for the phone number or e-mail of the  operator, or even the captain and talk to them. Ask what kind of boat you will be on, what type of equipment they use, what methods they use and if it is important to you, what level of English do their crews speak.

Once onboard talk with the crew and ask questions. Talk about your own level of experience. Leave your ego in your suitcase. If your home is full of trophies from fishing tournaments,  but you have never fished sailfish or marlin, let your crew know. Most crews will give you as much or as little help as you want, but you have to communicate that to them.

 

 

Communication during your Costa Rica fishing trip is VERY important

Almost all captains in Costa Rica use a “bait and switch” method of trolling for billfish. The fish pops up in the teasers and the mate reels in the teaser with the fish in hot pursuit. As the fish moves in closer to the boat, the angler pitches a bait in the water and drops it back to the fish. The teaser is than jerked from the water leaving the bait as the only option for the fish to grab a quick meal. The same method applies to fly fisherman – and if you haven’t tried billfish on a fly your literally missing the boat.

You are required by law to use circle hooks in Costa Rica when fishing with live or dead bait. The design allows the hook to set itself without jerking the rod. Actually they are a very effective method of hooking fish while causing the least amount of damage to the fish for a safe release.

Circle hooks are not something new. They have been found made from seashells in the burial grounds of pre Columbian Indians as well as in Pacific coast Native American burial grounds. The Japanese made them long ago out of reindeer horns.

They are really quite easy to use if you plant this in your brain. Crank…Don’t Yank!!!   If you are not familiar with circle hooks ask your crew to explain them before fishing.

Communication, both before and during your trip is the key to having a great Costa Rican fishing adventure.  It’s your turn on the dance floor.

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Costa Rica offshore fishing

The Science of Offshore Fishing

Effective management of offshore fisheries helps pelagic species become hard-fighting machines

Rather than droning on about stock-assessment updates, I’d like to discuss what drives anglers to ensure that pelagic species like tuna, wahoo and billfish are properly managed. Hopefully most folks realize that these creatures need to be conserved because they have a natural role in pelagic ecosystems as top-level predators. Anglers, however, are likely to have their own reasons to make sure there is an ample supply of these critters.

All of the aforementioned species share similar characteristics that make them endearing to recreational anglers. Most are aesthetically pleasing to the eye, even beautiful, and a few grow to colossal sizes. Some, in the case of tunas and wahoo, make for some of the best table fare that the ocean can offer. But there is one defining feature that really makes anglers love these fish: They are high-performance animals that pull like hell on the end of the line. The thrill of a big tuna, wahoo or marlin effortlessly pulling drag from a reel is one that is hard to beat.

These species’ capacity for speed and stamina is derived from unique adaptations evolved over the millennia that are truly fascinating. Tunas, for example, have a muscular composition that sets them apart from the rest of the pack and makes them masters of both speed and stamina. Virtually all fish possess a combination of fast- and slow-twitch muscle. Fast-twitch, or white muscle, as the name implies, is designed for burst speed. However, its white appearance means that it is not highly vascularized. As a result, white muscle can fatigue quickly and doesn’t afford much in the way of stamina.

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Slow-twitch muscle, which tuna have a lot of, is red because it is highly vascularized and well-­oxygenated, so it provides the necessary stamina for extended cruising — or in the case of a big tuna, thoroughly beating you up, whether you’re fighting one in the chair or standing up. The unique positioning of red muscle within white muscle, along with an amazing countercurrent vascular system, allows tunas such as bluefin the ability to generate and retain heat, so their body temperatures can be significantly higher than the surrounding ambient water temperatures. Keeping their eyes, brain and muscles warm gives these fish a performance edge in colder waters.

Pelagic species don’t lead ­sedentary lives; they derive oxygen from the water through ram ventilation, where the act of swimming actively moves water over their gills. As such, gill adaptations are critical for supplying oxygen to brain and muscle. Tunas have the largest gill surface area relative to size, with billfish, wahoo and the rest of the mackerels right behind with more surface area than virtually any other fish. Tuna’s individual gill filaments are also uniquely shaped to allow them to be tightly packed without collapsing during high-speed swimming to maximize surface area and oxygen exchange.

More Conservation News

Billfish possess unique spinal ­adaptations that benefit their energetic lifestyle and acrobatic tendencies. They have highly modified neural and hemal spines that overlap the ­intervertebral joints and interlock with fibrous connective tissues. This particular vertebral morphology is thought to act like a spring, which transmits force and power to the tail. These spinal adaptations are also thought to guard against shearing and compression of the intervertebral joints during bending, which also might explain how marlin can display such wild acrobatic gyrations without throwing out their backs.

This is just a brief glimpse into what makes these species some of the world’s most supremely engineered fish. The adaptations make them the game fish that they are, but it’s important to note that it can take millions of years of evolution to gain these refinements. That is why it is critical that we do all we can to ensure that these species are properly managed and conserved.

Article from Marlin Magazine

http://fishcostarica.org/marlin-sailfish-sat-tag/
http://fishcostarica.org/fecop-tips-how-to-handle-sailfish-and-marlin/
http://fishcostarica.org/fishing-species-pacific-blue-marlin/
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Costa Rica Fishing Species – Sailfish

Costa Rica Indo-Pacific Sailfish

 

From IGFA Fish Database

Shaw & Nodder, 1791); ISTIOPHORIDAE FAMILY; also called spindlebeack, bayonetfish

An Excerpt from Costa Rica Sailfish for Dummies by Todd Staley Communications Director, FECOP

Todd Staley FECOPThe lifetime of a sailfish varies from 4 to 10 years. Most of the juveniles spend their first few years off the coast of Mexico. That doesn’t necessarily mean they were born there. For example, a west coast Florida tarpon starts its life 100 miles or so off the beach, but spends its early years in the estuaries. The largest sailfish and the long-standing world record of 222 pounds came from their farthest range to the south in Ecuador.

The tropical Pacific is really not a very inviting place for sailfish. The low oxygen content in the water will not support them, but two famous currents bring in healthy water. The Humboldt Current flows north from Chile and Peru and collides with the California Current flowing south from the U.S. and Mexico off the coast of Central America, forming a “tongue” of current that supports sailfish, though to a depth of only 100 meters or less. Unlike the striped marlin that is caught off Mexico but might spawn off Australia, the eastern tropical sailfish’s range is limited to the coastal waters of the two currents and the tongue formed off Central America.

Sailfish are the fastest fish in the sea

Another phenomenon happens each year: Three distinct and powerful winds blow from land offshore. They start in December or January and blow until March or April. In Mexico, winds that start in the Gulf of Mexico push across the Tehuantepec lowlands offshore into the Pacific. Likewise, the Papagayo winds from Lake Nicaragua push offshore across Nicaragua near the Costa Rican border. Also, a Caribbean wind current crosses Panama heading into the Pacific near the Panama Canal.

As the Pacific surface water is pushed offshore, the upwelling sends to the surface oxygen-depleted water that cannot support sailfish. The entire population is forced into pockets of healthy water, which happen to lie in front of windless parts of southern Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica and parts of Panama. During this period, El Salvador, Nicaragua and other parts of Panama are nearly devoid of sailfish. This is the equivalent of taking the entire population of San José and moving everybody to the Pacific coast for four months out of the year, with no one living in between. Fortunately for the sailfish, their main food source, squid and sardines, follow the same pattern.

 

The reality is that these areas do not have a tremendous abundance of fish, but the whole population is forced to share these pockets. When there is a strong El Niño, the winds do not blow, so the population is not condensed into oxygen-healthy pockets caused by the normal upwelling. The surface waters also warm, and peak-season fishing results in Guatemala and Costa Rica drop dramatically.

Costa Rica has the benefit of two peak sailfish seasons. From the Gulf of Nicoya south, the peak is January through April. The Guanacaste region to the north begins to peak in May after the winds die and the fish begin to move freely out of prisons formed in Guatemala and southern Costa Rica.

Sailfish Facts Costa Rica

Dr. Ehrhardt’s studies have shown that a strong management plan is needed with all Central American countries working together. The Costa Rican Tourist Fishing Federation (FECOPT) is working with sport and commercial fishermen and the government on management plans within Costa Rica. In addition, CABA, The Billfish Foundation and local groups are working with Central American governments to form a united effort to conserve the region’s sailfish populations.

Sailfish Release

 

Inhabits tropical and subtropical waters near land masses, usually in depths over 6 fathoms, but occasionally caught in lesser depths and from ocean piers. Pelagic and migratory, sailfish usually travel alone or in small groups. They appear to feed mostly in midwater along the edges of reefs or current eddies.

  Costa Rica sailfish fishing conservation

Its outstanding feature is the long, high first dorsal which is slate or cobalt blue with a scattering of black spots. The second dorsal fin is very small. The bill is longer than that of the spearfish, usually a little more than twice the length of the elongated lower jaw. The vent is just forward of the first anal fin. The sides often have pale, bluish gray vertical bars or rows of spots.

More on the Saifish from the IGFA.org Fish Database

Its fighting ability and spectacular aerial acrobatics endear the sailfish to the saltwater angler, but it tires quickly and is considered a light tackle species. Fishing methods include trolling with strip baits, plures, feathers or spoons, as well as live bait fishing and kite fishing. The most action is found where sailfish are located on or near the surface where they feed.

Recent acoustical tagging and tracking experiments suggest that this species is quite hardy and that survival of released specimens is good

FECOP Fish Facts: Pacific Sailfish

Fastest Fish in the Sea at up to 70mph

World Record 222 lbs (Ecuador)

Common Name: Sailfish

Scientific Name: Istiophorus

Type: Fish

Diet: Carnivores

Group Name: School

Average life span in The Wild: 4 years

Feeding Tactics: Uses its bill to stun individual fish or slash groups of fish

Size: 5.7 to 11 ft

Weight: 120 to 220 lbs

Size relative to a 6-ft man:

 

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Costa Rica Fishing – The 10 fastest fish in the Ocean

Most of these species frequent the offshore waters of Costa Rica. Which speedster ranks number 1? Watch the video to find out!

Top 10 Worlds Fastest Ocean Fish Video

Unfortunately several of these Top 10 Fastest Fish in the Ocean are become endangered due to non-sustainable industrial level fishing practices, mainly from foreign fleets. Learn more about FECOP’s tuna decree and what we are doing to maintain healthy fish populations throughout Costa Rica including stopping the exportation of Sailfish, pushing tuna pursein boats 45 miles offshore, and decreasing bycatch by 25 tons in 2017. Check out some of the articles below for more information about the sustainable fishing projects, initiatives and events throughout Costa Rica.

About FECOP
FECOP is an (NGO) in Costa Rica focused on marine conservation through education and outreach to local communities.

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Costa Rica Sailfish Season

Costa Rica Sport Fishing – Sailfish for Dummies

Todd Staley Fishing Column Tico TimesBy Todd Staley published for The Tico Times
I’ve never been one to be afraid or too proud to ask for help. Some things I don’t understand, and with others I’m all thumbs. That’s why I’ve always kept close friendships with boat mechanics, fishing guides, reel repair people, doctors, scientists and even shrinks.

I’ve wondered for some time what makes Central America so special when it comes to sailfish. Why does the season peak from December through April? Why are the fish so big in Costa Rica, and why don’t we catch juvenile fish? Where do the fish go at the end of the season? Do they go offshore or do they go south or north?

Several years ago, Dr. Nelson Ehrhardt from the University of Miami and scientific adviser to the Central American Billfish Association (CABA) contacted me and asked if I could share my data collected from operating the largest billfishing resort in Central America for the past 10 years. I gladly agreed, and learned he had been doing an extensive study in Mexico and Central America for the last two years.

Each meeting with him in San José and at the resort in Puerto Jiménez, I learned a little more about blue-water ballerinas. It’s amazing how professionals can put all kinds of stuff in perspective and make it understandable. Dr. Ehrhardt should write “Sailfish for Dummies.”

Costa Rica Fishing Destinations

The same population of sailfish – pez vela in Spanish – traverses the eastern tropical Pacific from southern Mexico to Ecuador. It is one of the most condensed sailfish populations in the world. The lifetime of a sail is 10 to 15 years. Most of the juveniles spend their first few years off the coast of Mexico. That doesn’t necessarily mean they were born there. For example, a west coast Florida tarpon starts its life 100 miles or so off the beach, but spends its early years in the estuaries. The largest sailfish and the long-standing world record of 222 pounds came from their farthest range to the south in Ecuador.

The tropical Pacific is really not a very inviting place for sailfish. The low oxygen content in the water will not support them, but two famous currents bring in healthy water. The Humboldt Current flows north from Chile and Peru and collides with the California Current flowing south from the U.S. and Mexico off the coast of Central America, forming a “tongue” of current that supports sailfish, though to a depth of only 100 meters or less. Unlike the striped marlin that is caught off Mexico but might spawn off Australia, the eastern tropical sailfish’s range is limited to the coastal waters of the two currents and the tongue formed off Central America.

Another phenomenon happens each year: Three distinct and powerful winds blow from land offshore. They start in December or January and blow until March or April. In Mexico, winds that start in the Gulf of Mexico push across the Tehuantepec lowlands offshore into the Pacific. Likewise, the Papagayo winds from Lake Nicaragua push offshore across Nicaragua near the Costa Rican border. Also, a Caribbean wind current crosses Panama heading into the Pacific near the Panama Canal.

As the Pacific surface water is pushed offshore, the upwelling sends to the surface oxygen-depleted water that cannot support sailfish. The entire population is forced into pockets of healthy water, which happen to lie in front of windless parts of southern Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica and parts of Panama. During this period, El Salvador, Nicaragua and other parts of Panama are nearly devoid of sailfish. This is the equivalent of taking the entire population of San José and moving everybody to the Pacific coast for four months out of the year, with no one living in between. Fortunately for the sailfish, their main food source, squid and sardines, follow the same pattern.

The reality is that these areas do not have a tremendous abundance of fish, but the whole population is forced to share these pockets. When there is a strong El Niño, the winds do not blow, so the population is not condensed into oxygen-healthy pockets caused by the normal upwelling. The surface waters also warm, and peak-season fishing results in Guatemala and Costa Rica drop dramatically.

Costa Rica has the benefit of two peak sailfish seasons. From the Gulf of Nicoya south, the peak is January through April. The Guanacaste region to the north begins to peak in May after the winds die and the fish begin to move freely out of prisons formed in Guatemala and southern Costa Rica.

Dr. Ehrhardt’s studies have shown that a strong management plan is needed with all Central American countries working together. The Costa Rican Tourist Fishing Federation (FECOPT) is working with sport and commercial fishermen and the government on management plans within Costa Rica. In addition, CABA, The Billfish Foundation and local groups are working with Central American governments to form a united effort to conserve the region’s sailfish populations.

So now I’m standing on the stern of this boat with half a chicken’s worth of pink-dyed feathers and a fly rod in my hand, waiting for a ballerina to pop up, mulling over everything I learned about sailfish. If anyone has any advice on how to make a sailfish a dummy, I’m all ears!

  www.ticotimes.net/

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A study carried out by the Research Institute of Economic Sciences of the UCR, reports that in 2008 Costa Rica sport fishing as an economic activity contributed approximately $ 599.1 million, which represents 2.13% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of our country (2008).

Costa Rica fishing

Another study by Southwick Associates Inc. estimated that “271,200 United States residents fished in Costa Rica” during 2009. Of those 271,200 Americans, 40% said they would not visit Costa Rica if they had not been able to fish. This means that in 2009, Costa Rica would have received 110,690 fewer visitors, which represents a loss of $ 128.7 million.

Fortunately, ten years later, Costa Rica continues to be a world-renowned sport fishing destination. However, our ability to retain this tourist segment is at risk due to mismanagement of species of sporting interest, such as sailfish, tuna and marlin.

This risk forces us to know in depth the contributions related to our economy of sport fishing and commercial fishing because both seek to extract the same species.

Therefore, it is necessary to reiterate the need for a strategy of integral management of species such as sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus) and blue marlin (Makaira Mazara) that seeks to maximize the creation of socio-economic value through the conservation of the fishing resource and the sustainable development.

For example, one day of sport fishing aboard a Costa Rican boat generates about $ 1,000, while one kilo of retail sailfish only around 1,776.6 colones (about $4). A good day of sport fishing consists of 10 sailfish caught and released alive, while a good day of commercial fishing consists of extracting these same sailfish to be sold at a very low commercial value.

Costa Rica billfish tagging program

The sport fishing sector provides formal and stable jobs, generates commercial clusters that benefit entire communities such as Herradura, Quepos, Golfito and Papagayo. Courtesy / La Republica

The sport fishing sector provides formal and stable jobs, generates commercial clusters that benefit entire communities such as Herradura, Quepos, Golfito and Papagayo, and additionally guarantees the conservation of species of tourist interest. Its tradition of capture and release has high survival rates, and the technical advances in the tools used in the capture have allowed to reduce the damage of these species to a minimum.

That is to say, the sport fishing is a sustainable model that includes the three fundamental axes: society, environment and economy.

In general terms, it is evident that the effect on employment and the economy is greater in the case of sport fishing than in commercial fishing and requires strategic attention.

Even, there is a great opportunity in this sector that we have not taken advantage of. Currently we only attract 3.6% of the fishing tourist population of the United States, while other countries such as Mexico manage to attract more than three times, thus generating profits well above ours.

It is clear that we must strengthen and develop the sector in such a way that we are able to attract more numbers of sports fishermen.

In conclusion, it is necessary that the commercial fishing sector and the sport fishing sector be complementary in order to maximize the opportunity of creating socioeconomic value for the country.

We can not risk losing the many benefits of of sports fishing tourism to Costa Rica

For Costa Rica, the opportunity is magnificent.

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